On Stack Overflow, the "accepted" answer shows that the loop has been closed and the question has been answered to the satisfaction of the asker. That's true here too. But there's a big difference between accepting an answer on a practical and specific question as opposed to a general and broad question. On SO, I might ask:

How I can use the foobar feature that was introduced in version when I'm using version

One answer might be to upgrade and the other might be a workaround for my version. The "correct" answer is probably to upgrade, but it's nice that I can reward the other answer since there's probably some reason I can't upgrade and the workaround really helps me out. But our questions are more likely to be like:

Who were the Hellenistic and Hebraic Jews of Acts 6:1?

It's still important to know if the question was answered, but it doesn't matter as much which answer the asker was most helped by. In fact, it can be downright harmful to the way our community works if we are perceived as favoring one doctrinal position over another. When people ask a big-picture question they are, in a sense, asking not for themselves, but for anyone that Google will direct our way.

And that makes accepted answers very problematic. When a new user searches Google for "hellenistic jews", the third result1 points to the above question. For that person Ralph M. Rickenbach's answer will appear to be the answer that our community believes is most correct. However, I hope that new answers will be added and eventually receive higher answer scores. Ideally, Richard will then change his accepted answer. But Richard isn't active on the site anymore2, so that may never happen. As a community, we are stuck with this accepted answer unless we decide to delete it altogether.

I've proposed on Christianity.SE that all accepted answers be treated as self-accepted-answers for the purposes of sorting. I believe this solution would solve two problems simultaneously for us:

  1. It would remove some of the perception of our site having doctrinal cliches.
  2. It would give people who find us via search engines the answer that our community as a whole finds to be best.

Basically, we need to prevent askers of questions from being able to decide for the community as a whole which answer is "correct".


  1. As of this writing with my personal results hidden or in an incognito window.

  2. I'd love to have him come back. We miss you, Richard!

  • I've added a narrower feature-request on mSO Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 7:39
  • It looks like this has a chance of being accepted as a per-site option is on the table. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 6:46

2 Answers 2


I think I'm in favor.

Unlike SE, where you typically have an objectively "correct" answer, often on here many of the answers add valuably to the discussion. Not to say that there isn't a right and wrong, but that accepting an answer often has less to do with what's "right" than what satisfies the OP. OTOH, Biblical interpretation is neither determined by popular vote.


I've often wondered if this would be a good idea here.

On balance I'm not in favour—we are closer to the SE network Q&A 'ideal' with many answerable questions that lend themselves to a single outstanding answer than I imagine c.se are.

Despite the drawbacks to the accepted answer 'hike', which are present to varying degrees on every site, there are benefits too, which are also the same on all sites: It shows everyone clearly which answer most satisfied the OP.

That behaviour, while imperfect for the reasons you mention, is part of the whole ethos of the network: we want to encourage questions which do fit the mold, and I think that is true even here on b.se. If we remove this feature, aren't we at least implicitly saying: "we want to move away from that ideal and encourage a more 'pluralistic' model of Q&A" (ie we no longer care to attract questions that lend themselves to one excellent answer)?

  • actually I think SO had the same problem—we certainly face the same choice on dba.se —but I must say it isn't a frequent issue and can probably be left to the community to sort out or the discretion of mods. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 14:12

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